Boise State broke its silence regarding former defensive end Sam Ukwuachu by releasing a statement Tuesday saying the university had no knowledge of accusations of domestic violence or sexual assault regarding Ukwuachu or his girlfriend, who was a former Boise State athlete.
The incidents and factors that contributed to Sam Ukwuachu's dismissal from the Boise State football team had nothing to do with accusations of any sexual assaults or with accusations that he physically assaulted any women. However, federal laws protecting privacy prohibit Boise State from releasing information about what did result in his dismissal from the Boise State University football team.
Boise State University never received any reports nor had any knowledge of Sam Ukwuachu being involved in any accusations of sexual assault before or during his time at Boise State. .
Ukwuachu was convicted last week of sexually assaulting a former Baylor women’s soccer player in 2013 and sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years probation.
During the trial, questions began to swirl about what Baylor knew about Ukwuachu and whether the football staff knowingly placed female students in jeopardy by bringing him to campus. Baylor coach Art Briles vehemently denied knowing about Ukwuachu’s domestic abuse and said Boise State never made him aware of any such issues.
Washington coach Chris Petersen, who was the head coach at Boise State at the time of Ukwuachu’s dismissal, issued a statement saying Briles was “thoroughly apprised” of the circumstances involving Ukwuachu's dismissal from the Boise State program. However, he declined to give specifics.
Boise State’s statement flies in the face of a Sports Illustrated story published Tuesday afternoon that cited two former members of the Florida athletic department saying Boise State informed the football staff about Ukwuachu's domestic abuse issues.
That included the former freshman All-America defensive end's alleged physical abuse of his girlfriend and an allegation that Ukwuachu put his fist through a window while drunk at the couple's home, one of the ex-staffers said. (Ukwuachu was not charged in either incident.)
Is it possible a few Boise State athletic department staffers, including Petersen, knew about Ukwuachu’s transgressions and didn’t say anything to any higher ups? Sure. We still don’t know what Petersen said to Briles on the phone and we might never know. Petersen declined to elaborate on his statement again Tuesday.
Boise State did say in its statement that it planned to do a Title IX investigation into the allegations of domestic abuse despite the fact that neither athlete was still enrolled at the school.
In widely reported testimony from the Aug. 20 Texas trial, Ukwuachu's former girlfriend stated Ukwuachu hit and choked her while they were students at Boise State. This information about their relationship was not reported to Boise State when the two were students here. While neither student is currently enrolled at Boise State, the University has requested a transcript of the testimony and will begin a Title IX inquiry immediately based on this testimony about a potential physically abusive relationship between the two former students. That inquiry, like all such inquiries, will not be subject to public records requests for privacy reasons.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law restricting the ability of an institution of higher education to release student information without their specific written permission. Nevertheless, an exception exists for the release of information where a validly issued subpoena is produced. University officials coordinated with McLennan County prosecuting attorneys, releasing records to them pursuant to a valid subpoena, as required by FERPA. Those records, despite having been released pursuant to subpoena, remain protected, and FERPA prohibits Boise State from releasing even those that have become part of the public record in the trial. In addition to FERPA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act restricts Boise State from releasing certain information about students as well. .
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